These booksellers are proud to support the Binc Foundation and the work we do to provide assistance to bookstore employees in need. Thanks to all the booksellers that appear in this video for their support of the Foundation and for helping us to spread the word!
We know the profit margin on books is slim. Our bookish world is teeming with smart, talented, independent people who could be making twice as much money somewhere else. But we don’t, because there’s something soul-less about selling stuff you don’t care about. We are purveyors of culture, and that’s as glamorous as being a movie star…minus, of course, the ball gowns and limousines.
So what happens when that glamorous but limousine-less bookseller runs into unexpected financial crisis? From, say, catastrophic hospital bills after a necessary procedure, or escaping an abusive domestic situation? If a bookseller has been living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many of us have done, there might not be much savings in the bank to pay that off. They may be forced into a situation where they have no resources to pay the bills and get back on their feet. That’s where Binc can lend a hand.
Binc Helps a Fellow Bookseller
I’ll give an example from one of my early experiences working with Binc. A bookseller (whose identity is known only by two people on staff) missed a few days of work due to a heart attack. Yes, a heart attack. And that bookseller, God bless ‘em, was already back at work a few days later. Between the medical bills and lost income, they were having trouble paying other important bills. Binc was able to step in, get their bills paid, and protect them from further hardship caused by the emergency. I’m proud of this bookseller who soldiered on, and I’m proud of Binc for helping a bookseller pay their bills during a rough spell.
In fact, Binc gave away nearly $55,000 in financial assistance grants in 2015. Binc also gave away over $220,000 in scholarship money for professional development and higher education, some of that for college tuition, and also a number of scholarships to book industry trade events.
No matter our background, there may come a day for any of us when we have to struggle to stay in the business we love. Sometimes a little help is all it takes to sustain a life in books. That’s why I love Binc; it’s the safety net for booksellers.
Two sales reps have been a major help in spreading the word about Binc to bookseller accounts and are now encouraging other reps to do so, too.
HarperCollins field rep Kate McCune worked in bookselling before joining the publisher 14 years ago. “I spent so many years being a bookseller and working with booksellers that I know a lot of people don’t have a cushion,” she said.
McCune, who is also a Binc board member, initially heard about Binc at trade shows. “My kinship to booksellers kind of made me predisposed to work with Binc,” explained McCune. She also felt that it was critical to support independent booksellers. “This channel is hugely important,” she said. “I think it’s crucial that we’re there to just help people have the lives they want to have and not have it go off the rails. It feels like a no-brainer to help out on that front.”
In 2014, McCune and Kit Steinaway put together small, one-sheet kits for sales reps to take on calls. The idea, McCune explained, is for a sales rep to talk about Binc for just 30 seconds to a minute and leave behind some literature. McCune has found that a low-tech, face-to-face method, which she called the “pony express way,” seems to be best for spreading information about Binc among both booksellers and sales reps.
Likewise, Meg Sherman, a sales rep at Norton, who was an independent bookseller for 13 years, is a major advocate for Binc. “Strong booksellers need stronger bookstores need a stronger book industry,” she said.
“When booksellers aren’t able to come to work because of things going on in their lives, when they’re worried about how to pay their bills, they might leave [the industry] to take another job that they’d rather not take,” she continued. “Anything we can do to help with that and keep those stores strong means a stronger industry and stronger communities.”
After a series of historic floods in Colorado in 2013, she took notice of Binc’s work. “They had worked with several booksellers at Boulder Book Store to help them in midst of the floods,” recalled Sherman. “It was so immediate that they got on my radar.”
Ever since, Sherman has been advocating for Binc. Sherman’s territory as a sales rep covers seven Western states, and while giving rep talks around the region she takes time to mention Binc and the sorts of things they do for booksellers. And if she hears about a struggling staff member while speaking with store owners, Sherman doesn’t hesitate to mention Binc. Sherman has also begun talking to other sales reps about advocating for Binc.
Sherman said has consistently been struck by Binc’s multi-faceted efforts, which include providing grants to offset bills, advocating on behalf of booksellers while dealing with hospitals, insurance companies and similar institutions, and providing scholarships to booksellers to attend regional and national trade shows. “It really impresses me.”
We want to thank Kate and Meg for their support of the Foundation and for all they have done to get the word our about our mission and programs. They are truly our Binc SUPER-REPS!
This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.
In making the plans for the Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration a lot of ideas, details and options have been discussed. The one theme that they all have in common is the people, and more specifically the book people that made it all possible.
The Binc Foundation is pleased to welcome Julia Cowlishaw, Director of National Accounts at Ingram Content Group, to the board of directors. Julia brings her experience in many aspects of the book industry to the board. Growing up in California, she got her start in bookselling at Warwick’s in La Jolla while earning a degree in Printmaking at California State University – Long Beach. Julia’s career progressed as she moved to Ann Arbor, MI and started working at Shaman Drum Bookshop, eventually becoming the general manager. Under the mentorship of Karl Pohrt she learned the ropes of the larger world of the book industry before moving back to California to work as a sales rep for Ingram Content Group.
Binc is thrilled to announce that bookseller Chuck Robinson – co-owner of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington – is pedaling 2400 miles, from Bellingham, WA to Galva, Illinois, to support Binc and two other community foundations!
Binc is thrilled to be mentioned in the bookselling industry newsletter Shelf Awareness today, in relation to bookseller Chuck Robinson’s 2,400 mile fundraising bike ride across the country to attend his 50th high school reunion. He is generously pledging $1 per mile to Binc as a fundraiser during his ride. You can make a pledge to Binc on Chuck’s 2,400 Mile Fundraiser Page.
The executive director of SIBA, Wanda Jewell, explains why she supports Binc, and why all of us should join her
For nearly 20 years, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) has served as booksellers’ safety net, providing short-term financial support for booksellers (and their families) when they face an unexpected financial hardship.
Binc’s first assistance grant was given to a single mother struggling to pay her bills almost 20 years ago. Since that modest grant of $323, the level of assistance has grown, and the average grant today is more than $1,500. Whether the need arises from a natural disaster, serious medical expenses, domestic violence, the threat of eviction, or loss of utilities or household income, Binc works with each bookseller to return to a state of financial equilibrium.
We recently received a donation and a poignant letter from a former bookseller who suffered a stroke in the prime of life. We hope that sharing her words will serve as a reminder to us all that we never know what tomorrow will bring.
“For well over a month after my grant was approved I cried every time I thought about it. I simply couldn’t believe the compassion shown to us by Binc!